What now for Arteta as Xhaka ruled out for two months?
An impressive 3-1 victory against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspurs came at a certain cost for manager Mikel Arteta.
The Spaniard will be without one of his most trusted players for a few months: Granit Xhaka.
The Swiss international suffered an unlucky injury last weekend. But fans have shown minimum worry as his absence will create opportunities for other players in the team.
— afcstuff (@afcstuff) September 28, 2021
The 29-year-old was replaced by Albert Sambi Lokonga in the North London derby, and many will expect the young Belgian to keep the place.
The 21-year-old has been impressive since he made a summer switch from Belgian side Anderlecht. Despite not being a similar type of player as Xhaka, Lokonga can provide the team with something different.
Albert Sambi Lokonga (52) made the most passes of any Arsenal player against Norwich despite being subbed off after 62 minutes
— Orbinho (@Orbinho) September 12, 2021
It certainly means that the way we attack will be altered to some extent. The other option Arteta has at his hands is Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
The 24-year-old, who was willing to leave Arsenal in the last transfer window, has seen a lot of minutes at his preferred position of central midfield.
Despite having some good moments, the Hale End graduate has had substandard performances on that part of the pitch.
However, that can change if he is given regular minutes. Even though it is a big “if,” Arteta has no other option but to play him every now and then.
One of our own 🙌 pic.twitter.com/0jD6Ua9Zgu
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) September 27, 2021
The third option is obviously Mohamed Elneny. The Egyptian has played just 134 minutes of football this campaign. But he will now be entrusted a tad more given Xhaka’s absence.
Arteta has enough options to avoid having leggy players at the center of the park. His cause is helped by no European football, which has turned out to be a blessing in this case.
The former Manchester City assistant will also be pleased with the fact that the two months Xhaka will be out for also has two international breaks.
Xhaka’s injury is still not something to sweat about just now. The supporters have high hopes for Lokonga who has taken no time to settle to a new country and league.
But the Gunners faithful would be lying if they said they won’t start worrying if one of Partey or Lokonga get injured.
Time on the sidelines for either can make the next two months feel like two years.